New Delhi: Eminent political scientist Gopal Guru will be the new editor of the prestigious journal Economic and Political Weekly. In a statement on January 4, the Sameeksha Trust announced that Guru, who is currently a senior professor at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), will take over as the editor of its publication for a period of five years.
Guru is the author of several books and specialises in political theory and philosophy. His researches include significant work on Indian political processes and politics of multiculturalism. Caste and Dalit politics have, however, remained his core areas of interest during his long academic career.
He is considered to be one of the top-most academics to open up caste debates in the study of liberal arts in India.
“One of his earlier edited works, Humiliation: Claims and Context, is a very important contribution in the discipline. It is theoretical analysis on what humiliation means psychologically, socially and culturally, and politically,” Harish Wankhede, one of his colleagues in JNU, told The Wire.
Wankhede also said that while Guru has many international publications to his name, The Cracked Mirror: An Indian Debate on Experience and Theory, which he co-authored with Sundar Sarukkai, is understood as a compelling work in which the two debate on the importance of Dalit experience as a category to evolve new theoretical frameworks in Indian social sciences.
His monograph, Atrophy in Dalit politics, and earlier work on non-Brahminic cultural movements of Maharashtra are hugely popular among students of humanities.
Speaking to The Wire, Guru said that he is yet to receive his appointment letter from the Sameeksha Trust. “My tenure in JNU is going to end this summer. I hope to begin speaking with the trustees only next week and only then I will be able to talk about my date of joining and other plans for the journal. But before that, other formalities have to be completed.”
Guru’s appointment as the editor of the weekly journal has come after its previous editor, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, had resigned from the post in July 2017 following differences with the trustees over an article he co-authored about the Adani Group. The fall-out between the Trust and Guha Thakurta was sharply debated in various media platforms, each party defending its standpoint. While the Trust accused him of unilaterally initiating legal proceedings against the Adani-owned company after being served a legal notice over the article, Guha Thakurta had blamed the trustees for infringing upon his editorial autonomy.
Former editor of EPW, C Rammanohar Reddy, who had stepped down from the position in January 2016 following disagreements with the trustees, welcomed Guru’s appointment:
A first for EPW. The first national publication to have a Dalit as an editor. An outstanding scholar and a very good person.
Prof Gopal Guru appointed editor of EPW https://t.co/edFOkbK9Ro
— Rammanohar Reddy (@ramreddy) January 4, 2018
With Guru’s appointment, the Trust has given an indication that it wants its journal to focus on publishing research-heavy articles instead of investigative pieces, which were Guha Thakurta’s primary interests.